Primary girls love getting their kicks

Primary school football is
flourishing and that’s partly because young player/coaches like Shakeina Bush
and Dion Brandon are giving back to the sport they love.

Last season Bush coached the girls’
West Bay Primary, aka John A. Cumber to the Primary League title and Brandon
guided the Savannah Primary girls to finish second. Both thoroughly enjoyed the
experience and it bodes well for Cayman’s national teams that they are raising
the standards of girls’ football.

“It was fun because Dion and I
always grew up close,” says Bush. “Dion is two years older than me. We’ve
always been close and it was him and John Kelly who used to set me up with all
my goals in primary school football.

“I was the only girl playing at
that time and they would make sure I scored and at the end of the season I
would have four or five goals and was right up there with the boys. It was
always cool. Dion taught me how to juggle and what’s not. He was like my big

A national player at all levels,
Bush already has a wealth of experience. She coached West Bay girls’ Under-13
to league victory before but that was with the help of others. This time though
it was all her own efforts, an achievement she derives a lot of pleasure from.

“I enjoy coaching and being a
female I understand a lot of where the girls are coming from. They’re fortunate
they have a girl’s league. I didn’t have one but learned from playing under the
wings of Dion and John. They always included me, which made me feel good. Now
to be coaching together and getting success is a heart-warming moment. I’m only
22 but it seems like a really long time ago.”

Two girls Bush coached who really
stood out were midfielder Chelsea Green and goalkeeper Deondra Kelly. Bush
thinks they both have enough talent to make a big impression on Cayman’s women
team, assuming they get into one of the fledgling programmes.
“We see the talent and we want to be able to get them out there,” adds Bush.
“Get them involved and make them to love the sport 100 per cent. After the love
is developed then you can get into the technicalities of things such as fine
tuning passing and long kicks, dribbling and looking for players to pass to.

“Youth football is really
developing in Cayman. I’m glad to see it. Children cling to people who give
them attention and they need constant direction and guidance.

“Chelsea is a magnificent player.
For a child or her age, 11, she is doing things I couldn’t do at 15. She uses
both feet quite accurately, her heading…everything. Her flaws are her
attitude, lack of discipline at times, but at this point that’s something I can
overlook. Her mother, Gina, who was a great footballer, is very supportive of
Chelsea. She has the potential to be world class, Deondra too.”

Bush is pleased that youth football
is developing rapidly here thanks to the efforts of the Cayman Islands Football
Association and Minister of Sport Mark Scotland. But she would like to see more
creativity in matches too.   “It’s about
not being afraid to try. Try something different, unorthodox. It wows the
crowd, your team-mates and your coach and it makes the game what it is supposed
to be.”